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GPSolo eReport

GPSolo eReport July 2023

Defining Moments: Julie T. Houth

Melanie Bragg


  • This month we focus on Julie T. Houth, editor-in-chief of GPSolo magazine and the Division’s force of nature.
  • Julie says, “Life is an adventure, so seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you encounter.” She certainly has done that in her career and her service in the ABA.
  • Julie has thrown herself enthusiastically into every aspect of her life: lawyer, bar leader, championship cheerleader, and even race car driver.
Defining Moments: Julie T. Houth
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This month we feature Julie T. Houth, editor-in-chief of the award-winning GPSolo magazine and active bar leader. In the two years since she became editor-in-chief, she has taken the already high-quality magazine to higher levels. I met Julie when she served as a Young Lawyers Fellow during my year as chair of the Division in 2018–2019. I was immediately impressed by her willingness to work and to be a strong voice for young lawyers. Plain and simple: Julie is a “force of nature.” She is so impressive that it’s a challenge to process how one person could be so talented, so smart, so strong, so pretty, so active, so giving, so accomplished, and yet be so humble. But that is our Julie. And we are very proud to have her on board with us as part of the GPSolo family.

I interviewed her via Zoom on July 12 and learned that she explains the phenomenon of self I described above in terms of her being a child of immigrants. In her Legal Angle column for GPSolo’s May/June 2023 issue, “Practice Kindness and Appreciate Life,” Julie discusses her parents, who were refugees when they came to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their backs. English was not her first language. She has vivid memories of how, for a time, the family was living in a van in a local park in Orange County, California, and how they managed each day to get ready for school in the bathrooms at the park or the local restaurants. Her backyard was the park, and although they were poor, Julie says she “never once thought that I was poor.” Like me, Julie escaped the hardships of her childhood by escaping into books she got from the public library, which she still loves to this day.

Julie says that her parents taught her “‘the value of a dollar’ and that everything is earned in life, including things that couldn’t be bought, such as respect and kindness.” Julie was constantly reminded of how hard life in Cambodia was for her father and how Viet Nam was challenging for her mother before they came to America. Julie really understood the meaning of the American dream. She says that she tries her best “not to squander opportunities I’ve encountered and made a promise to myself that once I start something, I am going to see it through to the end.” Julie committed herself to a life of service, and that is borne out by the many things she does.

Law was a natural career for Julie because math was not her strong suit, and, like many of us lawyers, she preferred history. She still thinks she will go back to school to get her PhD in history someday, and I believe her. Whatever goal Julie sets, she will accomplish. It doesn’t even seem like there is anything to it; she makes it all look so easy.

Julie got her JD in 2014 at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and her LLM in taxation in 2017 at the University of San Diego School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in New York and works at Thomas Quinn, LLP, in the area of maritime law, which she really enjoys. Her Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) background makes her passionate about the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego and other Pan Asian organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). Julie’s Legal Angle column for the May/June 2022 issue of GPSolo,You, Me, and the AAPI Community,” contains an interesting overview of the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, as well as more of her personal story about being the child of immigrants. She says,

although representation matters, it needs to be coupled with meaningful participation to make an impact. Many Asians and AAPIs have been in this country long before my parents stepped foot on American soil. Total integration into American culture and customs is very difficult to do for most people who were not born in America. Unfortunately, this can lead to discrimination, and there’s a legal history of it specifically with the AAPI community.

In addition to being smart and a great student, Julie is athletic. She started out being a dancer—a ballerina—and a gymnast. She still has her pointe shoes from way back then. She is a fierce competitor, so it makes sense that sports would come easy to her, too. Julie began cheerleading in junior high school and was a cheerleader through college. She participated in the National Cheerleading Championships and was on the All-Star Team after college before law school began. Being a natural multitasker, she did it all and did it well.

Julie’s Legal Angle column for the September/October 2022 issue of GPSolo,The Power of Goodbye,” contained a tribute to the late Bill Russell, one of the greatest NBA basketball players of all time, who was also a civil rights advocate. In the article, she shares:

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received in life was from my dad: “It’s important to make peace with what no longer is essential because, usually, the most painful goodbyes are the goodbyes that never happened.” I still take this piece of advice with me and sincerely implement it in my life because I understand that my parents were never afforded the opportunity to properly say goodbye to their families, friends, and homeland when they lived through the Khmer Rouge regime and Vietnam War.

During her school years, while doing her best in school and in athletics, she and her siblings still had to devote a lot of time to taking care of her immigrant parents. Like me, Julie got her first job at 14. She and her siblings also helped their father at his bakeries. She became a competitive swimmer, and for seven summers during her childhood, she was a lifeguard. During college and law school, she often worked up to three jobs—including a work-study program on campus and, eventually, jobs at various law firms.

Julie says, “Life is an adventure, so seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you encounter.” In her March/April 2022 GPSolo magazine Legal Angle column, “Adaptability in the Face of Adversity,” Julie talks about sports, March Madness, and the effect COVID-19 had on sports during that challenging time. In the article, she goes into details about her athletic background and says,

Involvement in a sport is one of the best ways to showcase your skills and push yourself beyond your own limits. The skills you learn as an athlete really bleed through to your everyday life. As an athlete, especially one in a team sport, you learn skills such as perseverance and adaptability that can distinguish the good from the great lawyer even in the face of adversity.

Julie is still devoted to athletics and sports and now relieves her stress of being a busy lawyer and active public servant by lifting weights, hiking, surfing, kayaking, practicing yoga and Pilates, swimming, and working out on her Peloton, which is my favorite, too. There is not much she does not do, and in typical Julie fashion, she does it all well. Julie says, “You just have to pull yourself up and out. You have the full-blown responsibility to take care of yourself.” She is fiercely independent and can sometimes enjoy being taken care of. Julie says, “Remember your purpose. Be purposeful. Learn how to organize and prioritize. Watch how others do it. Live a meaningful life. Don’t linger in panic—it does not help you solve the problem. Sometimes you do just need a break.”

Recently, Julie experienced one of the most traumatic events in her life so far—she lost her beloved dog, Max, a Siberian Husky, who would have turned seven years old on July 14. Max died in her arms, and it was very painful for her. In her Legal Angle column for the upcoming July/August 2023 issue of GPSolo, she remembers him fondly and takes the time to grieve Max along with all of us in the GPSolo Division who have been grieving the loss of our Chair, Scott C. LaBarre.

In wrapping up a very interesting hour-long interview with Julie, I asked her to tell me something she has not already written about, something new, a “scoop” for me in this column. She thought about it for a minute and then said, “I used to be a car model.” Turns out, during college, she was recruited to be a car model—you know, one of those gorgeous girls who appear in car shows. She admitted she was more than qualified to do it, having been a “race car driver and a huge car enthusiast.” She opened a car shop and even knows how to fix her own car. In high school, she raced, did autocross, cones, track, and time trials, raced in the mountains, and worked on various car modifications. She summed it up with a sly smile, “I got to be one of the umbrella girls on the racetrack. I love the smell of tires and oil. I got paid to look cute.” Julie’s words of wisdom to young lawyers are, “Give yourself grace and be comfortable with being uncomfortable in the legal field. Change is inevitable, so lean into it and adapt.”

I hope I have done justice to the concept of our precious Julie Houth, one of our most outstanding young leaders in GPSolo, truly being a force of nature. She is the best, and I hope you read some of her columns if you have not done so already. Please contact me with your questions or comments at [email protected].

Defining Moments: Insights Into the Lawyer’s Soul

Defining Moments: Insights Into the Lawyer’s Soul

Defining Moments: Insights Into the Lawyer’s Soul
By Melanie Bragg
ISBN: 9781641054195
Product Code: 1620777
2019, 241 pages, paperback and e-book
$29.95; member price $23.95